Eye Health: Healthy Vision Month-Make Your Eye Health a Priority!

by Anna F. Fakadej, M.D., MBA, Cataract & General Ophthalmic Surgeon, Carolina Eye Associates

Women are more likely to have eye-related diseases and conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Nearly two-thirds of blindness and visual impairment occurs in women, and women make up the majority of the 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older who are blind or visually impaired. In addition, dry eye occurs at double the rate in postmenopausal women.

You may be busy, on the go and caring for your family, but it is important that you make the time to take care of you! During Healthy Vision Month, we remind you to make your eye health a priority and encourage you to take the following steps to help protect your sight.

Get a dilated eye exam. Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the best way to know if your eyes are healthy and you are seeing your best. Talk to your eye care professional about how often you should have one. 

Wash your eyelids. Wash eyelids using a commercial lid cleanser that is safe for the eye (can be found with the eye drops). Ladies, please be sure to remove eye makeup before bed.

Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. A diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, benefits the entire body, including the eyes. Eye-healthy food choices include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold-water fish. Vitamins may be helpful to slow down certain eye diseases like dry eye and age-related macular degeneration.

Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk for eye diseases such as cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking also raises the risk for cardiovascular diseases, which can indirectly influence your eye health. Tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, also worsens dry eye.

Know your family history. Talk to your family members— including parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles—about their eye health history. It is important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease, since many diseases are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease yourself. 

Use protective eyewear. Protect your eyes when doing chores around the house, playing sports or on the job to prevent eye injuries from happening. This includes wearing safety glasses, goggles, safety shields and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate. Eyewear should sit comfortably on the face, so talk to your eye care provider about the appropriate type of protective eyewear for your sport or job. Make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times and encourage your teammates and coworkers to do the same. 

Wear sunglasses. Exposure to ultraviolet UV light increases the risk of eye diseases, including cataracts, fleshy growths on the eye and cancer. Always wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection and a hat while enjoying time outdoors.

Keep diabetes, high blood pressure and other health issues under control, as they may affect your vision.

Eye exams aren’t only about checking a person’s visual acuity or sharpness; they are important in determining the overall health of their eyes. We encourage everyone to get regular eye care. By making vision a priority today, we can help protect our sight as we age.

Anna Fakadej, M.D. is a specialist in refractive cataract surgery including correction of astigmatism and presbyopia with various surgical and implant technologies. She also specializes in facial rejuvenation and general ophthalmic surgery. She is considered an expert in femtosecond laser and wavefront aberrometry. For more information on the services offered at Carolina Eye, call (800) 733-5357 or visit www.carolinaeye.com